Chop the dried apricots. Rinse and chop the glacé cherries. Zest both and juice 1 of the oranges. For feeding use extra of the brandy/ sweet sherry/ Marsala. Soften the unsalted butter. Finely chop the whole almonds.
- 1 In a medium-sized, non-metallic bowl, mix together the dried fruit, orange zest and juice, and brandy.
- 2 Cover the bowl with clingfilm, then leave in a cool, dark place to soak overnight.
- 3 Take a deep, 23cm cake tin, and double line to protect your cake throughout its long cooking time.
- 4 Cut 2 circles of baking parchment to ft the base of the tin.
- 5 Measure the circumference of the tin with a piece of string, then use it as a guide to cut a strip of paper long enough to line the sides of the tin, and two and a half times the depth.
- 6 Fold this strip in half lengthways, then make snips at 2.5cm intervals along the fold.
- 7 Grease the base of the tin and put in one circle of parchment.
- 8 Grease the sides of the tin and insert the folded strip of paper, pressing down the snipped edges on the base.
- 9 Finally, place the second disc on top, to secure the snipped edges in place.
- 10 Heat the oven to 140°C/120°C fan/ gas 1.
- 11 Beat together the butter and sugars with an electric whisk until light and fluffy.
- 12 Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
- 13 Combine the four, ground almonds, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice and ground ginger, then fold into the butter mixture.
- 14 Add the chopped almonds and syrup to the soaked fruit, then fold this into the mixture.
- 15 Spoon it into the prepared tin, using the back of the spoon to level the top.
- 16 Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 4-4½ hours, until the top is dark golden and from, and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
- 17 Leave to cool on a cooling rack, then remove from the tin.
- 18 Use a skewer to pierce the top of the cake at regular intervals, but try not to go all the way through the cake. This will help the brandy to soak into the cake.
- 19 Carefully spoon over 2 tbsp of brandy, so that it soaks into the holes.
- 20 Wrap the cake in 2 layers of fresh baking parchment, then in foil.
- 21 Feed it with alcohol every two weeks (up to three times before Christmas), but don’t overdo it or your cake will go soggy. It’s also best not to feed it for a week before you ice it.
- 22 It will keep for up to 3 months if stored in an airtight tin in a cool, dark place.